Cinema Review: The Inhabitants | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, February 26th, 2020  

The Inhabitants

Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Directed by Shawn and Michael Rasmussen

Oct 30, 2015 Web Exclusive
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Jessica and Dan are a young couple who buy a bed and breakfast from its longtime, increasingly senile owner in The Inhabitants early scenes. Dan (Michael Reed) believes the move will fulfil his wife’s fantasy of owning a quaint, rustic business. But rather than a dream come true, their new home offers nothing but nightmares, as Jessicas (Elise Couture) behavior grows increasingly erratic, while Dan uncovers an intrusive surveillance system in the cobwebbed crawlspaces, the grainy footage of which may hold the answers to a horrific mystery.

This DIY, Indiegogo-funded horror flick was written and directed by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, the sibling scribes who previously penned John Carpenter’s The Ward. The film’s greatest and most wholly unique attribute is its ambiguity. What exactly is the creepy menace that is closing in on this young couple, and driving the young wife to act increasingly possessed? Is it ghosts? Witches? Ghouls? The Rasmussens drop hints that point to all those perpetrators and more, which keep the audience curious. Along the way, the directors also make far less nuanced homages to other horror classics: Paranormal Activitys voyeurism, The Rings cassette tapes and creepy kids on a static-y screen, an Amityville Horror-esque rickety house, and even found footage-style shots of victims fleeing the encroaching evil, a la The Blair Witch Project.

While all that hat-tipping can be annoying, the Rasmussens also muster several innovative scares of their own, such as the elderly, dementia-stricken former owner wandering back to the haunted house and frightening the young couple; or the wife reaching into her washing machine, only to have her hand brush against corpses amongst the suds. Too bad more ingenuity can’t be found in the dialogue, which is wrought with clichés that fall absolutely flat, such as Dan cracking lame jokes about christening their new bed or Jessica being an “adorable feminist.” The unknown actors’ gamely attempt to heft those clunky lines, but the result only makes their characters seem cloyingly annoying, until the audience can’t wait for them to be killed off. What’s worse is how those contrived expository scenes drag on at a glacial pace between the scares. It’s laudable for the filmmakers to employ some old-fashioned, slow burning suspense and subtlety in favor of the shock-and-awe gore that has become horror’s flavour du jour. However, The Inhabitants would have been well-served by a few more fast-paced twists, along with some heavy dialogue trimming, in the lumbering lead-up toward the gnashing and soul-devouring of its protagonists.    

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Author rating: 5/10

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